Among the major airlines in the United States, Southwest has historically been the airline that most marches to the beat of its own drum. Part of that includes not having any airline partnerships. However, it looks like that could be changing.
In this post:
Southwest hiring airline partnerships manager
Southwest Airlines has a job posting for the position of Senior Manager Airline Partnerships. Here’s the job summary:
Manage the development, communication, and execution of Southwest’s entry into airline partnerships and develop and maintain relationships with potential partner carriers so that Southwest can successfully launch and build strong partnerships. Collaborate across both Commercial and Operational Divisions to ensure smooth entry and implementation of agreements and working with partner carriers to ensure a smooth journey for all Customers.
Southwest hasn’t otherwise said much publicly about developing airline partnerships, so I’d consider this posting to be pretty significant. Now, a couple of things to note:
- Since the airline is just hiring a senior manager for this role now, I would expect it to be quite some time before any partnerships launch
- Just because the airline is exploring the potential of something doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen; after all, an airline with tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue hiring a person to explore the possibility of something isn’t a major expense
What airline partnerships could Southwest launch?
All we can do is speculate as of now, though I sure think I’m not the only one who finds this to be fascinating. Here are my initial thoughts about what partnerships could (and couldn’t) make sense for Southwest:
- I can’t see Southwest partnering with a major airline in the United States, both for competitive reasons, and because business models aren’t compatible; Southwest has a robust route network, prides itself in two free checked bags, doesn’t do assigned seating, etc.
- It goes without saying Southwest won’t join one of the “big three” alliances, since American, Delta, and United are founding members of those alliances, and wouldn’t welcome Southwest
- What I could most see Southwest doing is something along the lines of the Allegiant & Viva Aerobus alliance, allowing Allegiant to grow in Mexico and Viva Aerobus to expand in the United States
- If Southwest were to grow, it seems that a partnership in Canada or Mexico would make the most sense; I don’t think Southwest would benefit much from long haul partnerships, between the airline largely having hubs that aren’t international gateways (Hobby, Midway, etc.), and the revenue potential there being limited
- The major challenge is that I’m not sure how many airlines are realistically available for a partnership like this, especially since Southwest isn’t particularly compatible with an ultra low cost carrier business model
So I remain skeptical. Then again, if you told me a few years ago that American was going to have a close partnership with JetBlue, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The topic of Southwest airline partnerships is going to be very interesting to watch. Southwest’s business model just doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, and that’s going to make this complicated.
Southwest Airlines is looking to hire a manager to explore airline partnership opportunities. While it’s far from a sure bet that this will come to fruition, the fact that Southwest is even exploring this is a noteworthy development. Usually I feel like I can guess which direction Southwest will go, but I’m stumped with this one.
What kind of airline partnerships do you think would be a good fit for Southwest?